Dar Williams and the Birth of a Livestream

When it was clear that May Day 2020 would have to go virtual, Angeldeep Kaur ’07 leapt into action out and reached out to singer/songwriter Dar Williams with a request to livestream the iconic May Day song "As Cool As I Am."

Below Kaur reveals just how the idea came about. To see the performance, go here.

How did you come up with the idea?

The idea happened through a conversation with April Giandomenico ’01. She reached out to me on Facebook Messenger on April 19. We didn't know each other before this conversation. She reached out because she saw that I had created the Bryn Mawr coloring book, Mothership: A Bryn Mawr Coloring Book (sold on Etsy) and was wondering if I would be interested in creating a May Day poster for 2020. She was making a May Day in a Box for a member of the class of 2020 and wanted to include a commemorative scroll. I thought it was a great idea, and she and I started to brainstorm some ideas of what should go on the scroll. During that conversation I suggested “Wouldn’t it be something if we could get in touch with Dar Williams and ask her to do a livestream.” April was very much on board, and I loved the idea, so I wrote to Dar through her Facebook fan page.

Here's What I Wrote to Her

Hi! My name is Angel, and I’m a graduate of Bryn Mawr College, class of 2007. I’m writing with a request—would you be willing to do a musical livestream on May 3? Our college has a big May Day celebration each year, and a major part of our celebrations includes your song "As Cool As I Am" during our Mayhole ceremonies (an anti-patriarchal take on the more traditional May Pole dance). I have such powerful magical memories of our celebrations as your song rang through our campus greens from my years as a student and later as an alum.

During this pandemic, all celebrations have of course been canceled, and current students and alums of Bryn Mawr are looking for ways to connect to our common tradition in uncommon ways. Having the ability to listen to you perform this iconic song so strongly laced with our feelings of community would bring us more joy than I can communicate. Thank you for considering this! Hope you and yours are safe and well!

My message was at 11:30 a.m., and Dar's response came at 11:46 a.m. saying, “I'd love to—what time?”

Relatedly, I did end up creating a May Day Scroll for the event, also sold through my Etsy shop, and we shared a picture of the Scroll with the Virtual Step Sing group for reference.

Why Dar Williams? And What She Like?

I was at BMC between 2003 and 2007. During my time, "As Cool As I Am" was the May Hole song, and the song is the most quintessential May Day memory for me. So when I thought of what would feel like a real May Day thing during this period, Dar and "As Cool As I Am" came to mind. She was lovely, as her livestream showed! She joked about not knowing how to livestream and needing to figure it out, and I think she did a wonderful job of it at the end! 

Her Shout-Outs to Mawrters were Striking. Did You Know that She Knew Bryn Mawr People? 

I was struck by that too! Once I shared with the Virtual Step Sing Facebook Group that I had been in touch with Dar and she had agreed, there were a few members who mentioned that she had performed at Bryn Mawr before and knew some Mawrters as well. She spoke about Bryn Mawr like she knew the women who attend, she captured the feel of the day wonderfully, and I felt really lucky that my whimsical idea had led to a fantastic shared Bryn Mawr event during Virtual May Day. Her comment about a wardrobe malfunction being very Bryn Mawr was very on point :)